After another record-breaking week, South Carolina reported nearly 3,000 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, the third-highest numbers yet reported.
The state set a record on Friday with 3,217 new coronavirus cases logged by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control. On Saturday, the state again exceeded 3,000 new cases.
In the weeks since the Thanksgiving holiday, the number of new cases has skyrocketed, alarming public health officials. Over the past seven days, around 20 percent of COVID-19 tests for South Carolina residents have returned positive results.
New cases reported: 2,924, which is 1,751 percent higher than the 158 tallied on March 31, the day Gov. Henry McMaster ordered nonessential businesses to close.
Total cases in S.C.: 234,392, plus 17,814 probable cases
New deaths reported: 44
Total deaths in S.C.: 4,387 confirmed, 352 probable
Total tests in S.C.: 3,096,815
Hospitalized patients: 1,278
Percent of positive tests, seven-day average: 20.5 percent. Five percent of tests or fewer returning positive results is a good sign the virus’ spread is slowing, researchers say.
The top South Carolina counties for new coronavirus cases on Sunday were Greenville, 491; Spartanburg, 307; and Richland, 193.
What about the tri-county?
Charleston County had 105 new cases; Berkeley, 64; and Dorchester, 62.
Two more Charleston patients have died after contracting the virus, DHEC reported Sunday.
Of the 44 new deaths, nine were middle-aged patients aged 35 to 64 years old. The rest were elderly patients aged 65 or older.
They lived in Anderson, Beaufort, Charleston, Cherokee, Chester, Darlington, Greenville, Greenwood, Lancaster, Laurens, Lexington, Marion, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union and York counties.
Of the 1,278 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 on Sunday, 295 were in intensive care and 129 were on ventilators.
What do experts say?
Authorities continue to urge South Carolinians to take precautions such as wearing masks or other face coverings, social distancing and frequently washing hands.
They also urge anyone who believes they’ve been exposed to the virus or who is developing symptoms to get tested. Those out in the community or not able to socially distance should get tested monthly, DHEC advised.
Go to scdhec.gov/findatest to find a testing site in your area.
Reach Fleming Smith at 843-937-5591. Follow her on Twitter at @MFlemingSmith.